The Light Programme: A Classical Touch

Today in our month­ly pro­gramme of Light Music, we focus on the “light orches­tral” or “light clas­si­cal” end of the spec­trum.

We can think of Light Music as fill­ing a gap between out-and-out clas­si­cal music, and the excep­tion­al qual­i­ty music pro­duc­tion library and film music of the 1940s-50s — the lat­ter also fea­tur­ing from time to time on The Light Pro­gramme. It’s a con­tin­u­um with per­haps Sul­li­van at one end (and we’ll hear some of his Over­tures today) and maybe Coates at the oth­er – though it’s dif­fi­cult to define bound­aries. In between are com­posers like Addin­sell, Alwyn, Ketel­bey, Tom­lin­son, Binge, Lane and oth­ers, and it’s their music that we’ll be fea­tur­ing today. What these pieces and com­posers have in com­mon, is a “clas­si­cal” approach to melod­ic music. Their work is full of great tunes, and it utilis­es orches­tral forces with as much aplomb as any clas­si­cal com­pos­er. But in gen­er­al (though not always), the music is a lit­tle lighter in tone and feel.

I should note, inci­den­tal­ly, that the title “The Light Pro­gramme”, in addi­tion to refer­ring to the BBC radio ser­vice of the same name (which was renamed in 1967), also pays homage to “Bri­an Kay’s Light Pro­gramme”, which ran on BBC Radio 3 from 2002 until 2007.

Bri­an Kay has been one of the key peo­ple (along with Gavin Suther­land, Ernest Tom­lin­son and friends) who has been respon­si­ble for the immense resur­gence of inter­est in Light Music in the 21st cen­tu­ry and the redis­cov­ery of these mar­vel­lous com­po­si­tions. And if you are a lover of Light Music, please do find out more about the Light Music Soci­ety.

In fact, one is moved to won­der why there is no longer any cov­er­age of Light Music on the BBC, even on Radio 2, when there’s a poten­tial audi­ence in the UK of over 20 mil­lion peo­ple over the age of 55 — plus many oth­ers who enjoy the retro appeal of light music along with pro­duc­tion library music from the 1960s (as evi­denced by the packed house in Isling­ton recent­ly for the lat­est per­for­mance of the KPM All Stars).

The ZBS Radio Hour

Then at 19:00 and 03:00 in the UK — that’s 11am and 7pm Pacif­ic Time — please join us for the lat­est install­ments of our enthralling steam­punk mys­tery ser­i­al, Steam Dream­ers of Inver­ness, at the top of the hour, fol­lowed by the penul­ti­mate straaange SF tale in our series Stars ‘n’ Stuff on the half hour.

Today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin. You can lis­ten to the pro­gramme in-world now at, or sim­ply click here to start your play­er, if your brows­er is con­fig­ured to do so. Lis­ten­ers in the Unit­ed States are encour­aged to tune in using this link:

Pic­tured: the BBC Mid­land Light Orches­tra.

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